IF you have read, heard and seen with growing frequency that the farming and agricultural industry in Papua New Guinea is one of enormous, yet still untapped, potential then prepare for these murmurs to become a roar in years ahead.
Firstly, allow me to introduce myself. I am Humphrey Saese, National Rice Development Manager for Trukai Industries. Rice and farming is my life. I will report on the farming and agriculture sector for Weekender every fortnight from my industry insider’s perspective.
I plan to keep you informed about those important developments within farming and agricultural sector that will directly affect you, the reader, in the years ahead. This is an opportunity I will take very seriously.
In many respects, when it comes to farming and agriculture in Papua New Guinea, our story is still largely unwritten.
Like our present and future farmers around the nation, I want to lend my hand to scripting new chapters that are fast taking shape.
While the mining sector has been the major focus in recent years, its benefits while impressive are short term. When it comes to long term benefits to PNG, it is not mining but our sleeping giant, agriculture, that will pave the way for great change.
The farming sector needs real attention because the reward for that focus will be a strong economy and growing, self-reliant workforce. I will expand on this in future columns but farming is a wonderful, natural way for our rural people to make a good, honest living.
Training and investment from key stakeholders including government and companies within the private sector. I will cite what is happening in Markham Valley as an example.
Trukai Industries’ Markham Valley rice project, established with the cooperation of the Chingwam Rice Growers Cooperative, recently saw 140 ton of rice harvested.
We provided training and equipment to local farmers, who worked alongside our rice development team to achieve this feat.
The reward for these local farmers? A cheque for K84,700 for the purchase of the rice by Truaki was presented to the Chingwam Rice Growers Co-operative.
I have worked for over 15 years in the Markham Valley and it was humbling to not only support these farmers to grow rice, but to see actual Kina being paid to them.
Response from the community to this commercial project has been overwhelmingly positive. There is interest from farmers and landowners in the valley who are keen to give their land for rice farming.
Trukai is now expanding to a 500-plus hectare rice plantation near Rangiampum and the site will be progressively expanded up to 2,000 hectares over a number of seasons, subject to relevant agreements and climatic and soil evaluations.
There is much to do, but all stakeholders can change the fortunes of our rural communities in particular, through farming and agriculture.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime
Humphrey Saese is Rice Development Manager for Papua New Guinea’s leading rice supplier, Trukai Industries.